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WorldDAB Looks at Present, Future

The organization provides insight into where the medium is directed

Thomas Saner, head of strategic distribution planning at SRG SSR in Switzerland, speaks during the Industry Insight session at IBC2015 The WorldDAB Consortium held an “Industry Insight” session at the IBC2015 convention to look at current market opportunities and future plans for DAB+ digital radio across the world.

Simon Fell, EBU director of technology and innovation, served as moderator for the session.

Patrick Hannon, WorldDAB president, presented the latest facts on DAB/DAB+ deployment. Moving from the decision to set a date for FM switchover in Norway and Switzerland, Hannon outlined the growing number of EU markets committing to digital radio, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Some “405 million people are currently covered by DAB/DAB+ broadcasts worldwide,” Hannon said, “and we expect a global cumulative figure of 40.1 million receivers sold by end 2015.”

Helwin Lesch, head of distribution and controlling at Bayerischer Rundfunk in Germany, and Thomas Saner, head of strategic distribution planning at SRG SSR in Switzerland, discussed how their countries would handle the possible switchover scenario. Elena Puigrefagut, senior project manager at the EBU, predicts the upcoming WRC15 conference (to take place in Geneva in November) will have assignments to mobile telecommunication services in the L Band frequency, currently dedicated to DAB broadcast.

“There is a tremendous pressure by telco operators to get more and more frequencies in the UHF band for mobile data services” said Puigrefagut, “and the idea that Band III could be used to replace the frequencies no longer available to DTT broadcast is rising.” However, Puigrefagut does not believe it would bring any benefit to broadcast.

Ofcom Director of Content Policy, Peter Davies, told the audience about Ofcom’s experiences on “small-scale DAB” technologies, which are aimed at allowing local and community stations to migrate to DAB+ at a fraction of the current cost.

“DAB receivers are widely spread throughout the U.K.,” he explained, “and FM-only radio stations, which can’t afford to broadcast via DAB could suffer from the ongoing migration of radio audience to digital radio. We aim at giving these stations the possibility to continue to stay where their audience is.”

Jacqueline Bierhorst, project director at Digital Radio+ NL, and Laurence Harrison, technology and market development director at Digital Radio UK, jointly highlighted the importance of a coherent marketing and branding strategy throughout the various markets, thus showing digital radio as a single market entity to car and mobile device manufacturers. They also announced that the new Fiat 500X is the first car to feature a DAB+ receiver as standard throughout the various European markets.

— Davide Moro